In my classes that I teach on Neo-Ericksonian Hypnosis we often begin
with a very simple trance experience. The participants in the class
divide up into pairs and sit facing each other. They keep their eyes
open and simply look into each other's eyes. Then one of them asks the
other, "Who are you?"
The other responds in whatever way feels right at that moment. He or
she might say something like, "I am a Doctor," or "I am a student." Or
they might say something like "I am Sue," or "I am Charlie."
Whatever they answer, the person asking the question then affirms the
answer by saying, "That's right. You are 'Charlie'" (or whatever he or
she had said), while doing their best to really see that in them.
Then, after a breath or two, the asker asks, "and who else are you?"
In class, we usually do this for about ten minutes for each round.
Both participants usually experience various levels of trance in the
process and find it quite pleasant. What is particularly interesting
is what happens after the first few rounds and the person runs out of
the stock answers. Usually (sometimes at my suggestion, I confess) the
descriptions of which they are become far more metaphorical or
symbolic. Like, "I am a hungry Lion," or "I am the night." Any
response is perfectly fine, of course. The asker simply affirms this
definition, "That's right, you are the night," and goes forward from
In his book, "Enlightenment is not the Tooth Fairy: Put your ego under
your pillow and Wake Up!" Dr. Robert Bays describes spiritual retreats
where this same exercise is done for hours on end - for seven days in
a row! The outcome, as I understand it, is to gently peel away the
many veils of ego overlaying who your really are at your core. In the
course of this discovery one might find that one has a lot of work to
do to transcend her or his stories - often of suffering - that are
attached to the various definitions of self unveiled along the way.
Let's look at two words: "Ego" and "Transcend."
Did you know that the word "ego" comes from the Latin for "I?" I've
always known it to be one of the three constructs in Sigmund Freud's
structural model of the psyche (id, ego and super-ego), but it is nice
to know that it is quite simply a word that means the "self", or
identification with your own individual existence. So when the
question is asked "Who are you?" The answers are self-concepts.
This word, "transcend," is an interesting one. I have often said to
clients that I am not so much a hypnotist as a DE-hypnotist. That
their issues are a results of trances they have put themselves in. So
I wake them up from those less elegant trances and help them to
acquire more effective trances. Going further with this idea, when
successful in this pursuit, I have effectively helped them to "end the
trance" or "trance-end" the old habit.
So perhaps the notion of "Enlightenment" is just this... ending the
trance of the earlier ego-fixation and enjoying the freedom that this
awakening engenders. I would posit that it is in this way that
Hypnosis may, in fact, be a portal to a spiritual experience and a
deeper spiritual understanding. It certainly can be a transcendent